John Hughes movies make perfect movie night


Jennifer Walker and Natalie Brink graphic

John Hughes has delighted audiences since the '80s with his classic teen movies.

“Sixteen Candles” (1984)

“Sixteen Candles” follows Samantha (Molly Ringwald) as she turns 16 years old. The problem? Her family is too focused on her older sister’s wedding to take notice. And the day doesn’t get better for her. Sam is constantly worried about impressing senior Jake (Michael Schoeffling) while being hounded by Ted (Anthony Michael Hall).

The most upsetting thing about the movie is that its premise doesn’t work. Sam and Jake, seemingly the couple the audience should root for, don’t have any chemistry. And that’s not the actors’ fault. The two barely share any screen time, making the whole premise of this romantic movie seem cheap. That being said, this movie is pretty funny. I found myself laughing out loud more than once. Most of the humor is in-your-face, but that works because of the movie’s light tone. What doesn’t work is the movie’s reliance on creepy relationships and a fairly racist character to get laughs.

This movie has not aged well and if you are in the mood to watch a John Hughes movie, pick another one. You’ll get much more entertainment out of his later movies, trust me.


“The Breakfast Club” (1985)

This drama, set entirely in a high school in one day chronicles the story of students thrown together after they all receive Saturday detention. The group, made up of queen bee Claire (Molly Ringwald), jock Andrew (Emilio Estevez), nerd Brian (Anthony Michael Hall), outcast Allison (Ally Sheedy) and criminal John (Judd Nelson), initially loath one another, but as the day unfolds, they begin to understand each other and overcome their differences.

Hughes writes the characters in this film impeccably. Even though there are five complex characters, the film never feels overcrowded. He subtly provides motivation for all of the characters by weaving their backstories into the dialogue they share, but he does not overshare and detract from the larger story. Hughes also does a fantastic job of keeping the story contained. By telling the story in a single day and a single setting, Hughes is able to examine how the characters feel when they are not surrounded by people like themselves.

I would recommend this movie a thousand times over. It feels like no other high school movie and there are pretty much no flaws in the storytelling. If you’re feeling nostalgic for an 80’s classics, but not in the mood to watch a cliche fest, turn on “The Breakfast Club.”


“Pretty in Pink” (1986)

Molly Ringwald again stars in a John Hughes classic, this time as Andie, a girl from a working class family who falls into a relationship with rich kid Blane (Andrew McCarthy). In addition to navigating a school that hates her and Blane’s relationship, Andie also has to deal with her single father (whom she acts like a mother toward) and her friend Duckie (Jon Cryer), who doesn’t shy away from the fact that he has a crush on her.

“Pretty in Pink” is “Sixteen Candles” done right. It’s comforting in its familiarity — a teenage girl falling for someone she thinks is way out of her league — but it also introduces a certain nuance to the story that “Sixteen Candles” and other teen rom coms just lack. This movie is about more than Andie and Blane’s relationship, it’s about them dealing with the fallout of their relationship at school, how Andie and Duckie deal with their own relationship and how Andie matures throughout the experience. It’s a far cry from the strange, stagnant relationship Sam and Jake share in “Sixteen Candles.” All of the characters in “Pretty In Pink” feel like real people, with the exception of Blane’s friend, who has no redeeming qualities.

This movie is my favorite John Hughes movie. It goes so much deeper than a standard teen movie, from the ‘80s or today, and even with a love triangle, it doesn’t seem nearly as trite as other teen movies. Do yourself a favor: pop some popcorn, settle yourself on the couch and watch this movie.


“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986)

Matthew Broderick stars as the titular Ferris Bueller in this high school drama/comedy classic. The audience follows Ferris, a high school senior, as he cuts class with his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) and drags her and his best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck) through the streets of Chicago. While they enjoy the offerings of the city and face the oncoming fact that Cameron and Ferris are about to graduate, the group serendipitously manages to evade principal Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), who’s bent on catching Ferris skipping.

Once again, Hughes shows off his ability to juggle a complex script. He effortlessly blends comedic aspects of the movie with the dramatic tension created by the prospect of getting older and leaving high school to venture into the great big world. The viewers, who could easily be left with whiplash by the tonal changes of the movie in if left another writer’s hands, are instead invited to ponder the complexities that adolescence has to offer. The visual comedy in this movie is so well executed by Hughes it can still make me double over laughing on my fifth rewatch.

If you want a movie that can both tug at your heartstrings and make you burst into laughter, I would highly recommended “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” It is a fantastic movie that deserves its place as a classic teen film.